The Heart of Torah

About the Book

In The Heart of Torah, Rabbi Shai Held's Torah essays, two for each weekly portion, open new horizons in Jewish biblical commentary. R. Held probes the portions in bold, original, and provocative ways. He mines Talmud and midrashim, great writers of world literature, and astute commentators of other religious backgrounds to ponder fundamental questions about God, human nature, and what it means to be a religious person in the modern world. Along the way, he illuminates the centrality of empathy in Jewish ethics, the predominance of divine love in Jewish theology, the primacy of gratitude and generosity, and God's summoning of each of us with all our limitations into the dignity of a covenantal relationship. 

Praise for the Heart of Torah

"Rabbi Shai Held offers thought pieces on the parashat ha-shavua whose scope, depth, ethics, and insight will delight readers from all Jewish backgrounds, as well as anyone interested in mining the Bible for its timeless wisdom."
- Jewish Book Council

"Shai Held's new book on the weekly Torah portions is the kind of book that people should keep in their tallit bag and peruse during the Torah reading, because he understands the three kinds of questions that we need to confront whenever we study the Torah."
- Jack Riemer, Jewish Advocate

"In Held's deft hand, these divrei Torah teach of human ethical responsibility in the face of pain that is interwoven into God's world. . . . The essays are beautifully written, richly woven, and speak honestly to the challenges facing religious people in the 21st century."
- Yoel Finkelman, Association of Jewish Libraries Reviews

"The Torah reading cycle provides the structure not just for the Jewish year but also for countless volumes of commentary on the biblical text, including Rabbi Shai Held's brilliant new two-volume collection The Heart of Torah, Essays on the Weekly Torah Portion."
-Ilana Kurshan, Jewish Review of Books

“The Heart of Torah is a stunning achievement: textually learned, theologically profound, ethically challenging, spiritually uplifting, and psychologically astute. If you want to know what it can mean to read the Torah today with your whole heart and your whole mind, read this book.”
-Rabbi Sharon Brous, 

“Shai Held deftly brings the wisdom of Torah to bear upon the contemporary human condition. Christians who read this book can discover fresh dimensions within the biblical text, see more clearly where there is common ground between Jews and Christians, and better grasp what it means to understand and live in this world as God’s world.”
-Walter Moberly, Durham University